[WARNING: topics discussed today might not be enjoyed by all audiences as some find them very offensive, and they might alter your enjoyment of romance novels. Read at your own risk.]
Today we’re going to go a round with reality v. fairytale.
Need coursed through Aaron’s veins like an all-consuming fire. He wanted her. Now. He wanted to make it known to him, to her and everyone else that she was his wife. His gaze swept her from her pale cheeks to her heavy, floppy breasts and all the way down to the tips of her pink toes that poked out below her silken nightrail. She wasn’t quite breathtaking, but she’d do. Not wanting to prolong the inevitable any longer, he snuffed the candles then moved to the bed where she lay and joined her. Dropping an obligatory kiss on her partially chapped lips, he reached down and grabbed a fistful of her nightrail, lifting it far enough to reach his hand underneath.
He took hold of her scaly ankle, then made his way up the gentle curve of her hairy calf. He squeezed and massaged her soft flesh, hoping it’d relax his new bride enough so not to put up a fight when it came time to join. The muscles in her legs relaxed a bit and he dropped his face to the crook of her neck and inhaled the pungent aroma of her sweat.
What more would she allow him to do, he wondered as he reached his fingers up for the wiry hair that covered her intimate places like a thick carpet.
She squealed and clamped her legs together.
He grunted and withdrew his hand. He rolled off to one side and exposed his not-so-erect member. Aaron looked to his wife and frowned. She didn’t appear to be as interested in him as he was in her. No matter. This wasn’t for her anyway. It was only necessary to secure his heir and she should just be thankful he’d cared enough to try to relax her. Later, he’d go see Maude and she’d sate his desires.
He closed his eyes and dredged up an image of Maude. Her naked body glowing with desire–or was that sweat from all the exertion of a
day’s night’s work? For the right amount of coins, Maude had no qualm about prancing around the room naked in front of him and she was always ready for his attention, her body slick and relaxed. Instantly, Aaron was hard.
Before something could happen to alter his state, he better situated himself on top of his wife and fumbled for a moment or two to find her dry, unrelaxed opening–scowling that he wasn’t quite as firm as he was a moment ago. He shut his eyes and imagined Maude doing unmentionable things to him. Problem solved.
Ignoring his wife’s shriek of discomfort, he shoved forward then rocked his hips, once, twice, thrice. Then it was over. His climax overtook him, sending his seed into his wife. With a grunt, he pushed away, gained his feet, grabbed his dressing robe and went to his clean bed, leaving his wife to call her maid to contend with the mess. With any luck, she’d conceive soon and he could put this unpleasant business behind him.
Was that romantic?
No. It was barbaric. But it was also much closer to reality than what we read about. The facts are:
- Even for Lords and Ladies, bathing was a luxury and something not done everyday. A personal deodorant was unheard of so there really wasn’t a way to combat the stench of body odor–or even bad breath, which was rampant due to the large quantities of alcohol and spicy food consumed. (I will add though, there were some who did chew on cinnamon sticks as a means to help with their breath, but this was actually more popular later.) Because personal hygiene as a whole was neglected, a lot of the things we take for granted: smooth skin and perfect lips weren’t common, either.
- Women shaving their legs is an Americanism. I’d personally always heard that it started during WWI when silk stockings were in shortage and ladies had to start working at factories in order to make ends meet while their husbands were away. Most of these factories, coincidentally, were making the weapons or supplies their husbands were using. However, there are also arguments and facts that say this trend began with the flappers in the 1920s. With shorter dresses, came exposed skin and the body became a thing of beauty and with it came widespread use of makeup, bras and hair removal. Either way, both of these theories take place around the same time, and for the same reason: their legs (and armpits) were now exposed.
- The entire theme of that unsightly “scene” is sex. And while it’s true that during the Regency that “love” was encouraged, that’s a false assumption in part. Love was encouraged as long as the family approved of the match. So it was really who do you like best out of these choices? Because A. most marriages were not genuine love matches, and B. ladies were thought weak and with sensitive sensibilities (and some were) the majority of men still frequented brothels or kept mistresses after marriage.
- There’s an old and recurring theme in a lot of historical romance that mentions the high percentage of subsequent children who are not biologically the duke/earl/viscount’s etc. This is very true, too. Not only was it common for men to have extra marital relationships, women did, too. Many women took lovers. Sometimes with the men they’d have rather married but were unable to. Sometimes with a close friend. Or even sometimes some would sleep with their staff. Though husbands didn’t like to think of their wives as sexual creatures because that was the commonly accepted (and longed for?) belief, some women really were and would take lovers.
- In case you missed it, this scene was their first time together. Historically speaking, and even today, it is very unlikely that a woman would find any enjoyment and most notably an orgasm during her first time.
However historically accurate any author claims to be, you will NEVER find the previous scene in a book. Why? Simply because it ruins the fairytale. Sure, people can get hung up on why some historic event wasn’t mentioned or why a character would act in such a way that defies our belief of the time. However, when it comes to the actual romance between the two characters, realism evaporates and the fairytale begins. Hairy legs, stinky breath, billowing nightgowns, unresponsive bodies and extramarital sex are NOT what fairytales are made of. Gentle kisses, soft caresses, beautiful, flawless skin, and matched desire IS.
So now that I’ve temporarily dampened your desire to read anymore historical romances, I must ask, which do you prefer, reality or the fairytale?